Theories on Motivation Essay

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Motivation can be defined as the inner power or drive that pushes one towards taking a particular course of action. It is much related to desire and ambition and they all work in tandem (Sasson, 2001). Motivation is influenced or caused by factors known as motivators. According to Sigmund Freud, we are compelled to act by unconscious forces within us, which he called our id (Hofstede, 1980).

Motivators are either intrinsic (from within) or extrinsic (from without). Intrinsic motivational factors refer to motivators that come from within an individual. They are not influenced by external factors. This kind of motivation comes about as a result of self actualisation or fulfilling one’s personal goals. Malone and Lepper
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Maslow categorises human needs into five main areas shaped in a pyramid form, which are attained in a hierarchical manner. According to Maslow (1943), lower needs take precedence and must be fulfilled before higher level needs are activated. Thus, individuals progress from the bottom of the pyramid of needs to the top.

Maslow’s work has been markedly criticised for its failure to take into account individual differences and cultures. Wahba and Bridgewell (1976) find very little evidence of the ranking of human needs as described by Maslow or even the existence of a definite hierarchy of needs at all. On another front, Hofstede (1984) criticises Maslow’s work for being ethnocentric as it is based on an experiment on a limited sample population in the U.S.A and cannot be extrapolated to describe a universal situation.

Alderfer’s Existence, Relatedness and Growth Theory:
Alderfer (1969) distinguishes three categories of human needs that influence individual behaviours, which are Existence needs, Relatedness needs and Growth needs. His work can be seen as a more compact form of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. However, he contrasts with Maslow’s theory in that the human needs he identified are not in anyway attained hierarchically nor do all individuals have to go through the same process to attain their needs. Furthermore, Alderfer proposes the frustration-regression
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